Nevada adopts a public option

Keith A. Reynolds

The Silver State joins Washington as the only states with a government-backed public option.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed a bill creating a public health insurance option for the state.

The law directs officials to create a public option through the state’s Silver State Health Insurance Exchange available to residents with the option of making it available to small businesses. The public option will be a federally qualified health plan which provides levels of coverage at least consistent with one silver and one gold plan, according to the bill.

The premiums for the public option must be 5 percent less than the reference premium for the zip code and must not increase more than the Medicare Economic Index any year, the law says.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that health is wealth and I am committed to finding ways we can increase access to health care – as well as taking steps to strengthen our public health systems across the State,” Sisolak says in a news release. “We will be able to identify and make recommendations concerning the State’s unmet needs, find opportunities to obtain federal or private funding to support public health services, and look at ways in which the State can improve coordination between providers of public health services and the delivery of those services to patients.”

In 2019, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law creating Cascade Care, the state’s own public option. According to a news release, the legislation was aimed at pushing back against attempts by congressional Republicans and former-President Donald Trump to undermine the Affordable Care Act.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” Inslee says in the release. “It builds on work we’ve done over the past several years to expand and protect health care under the Affordable Care Act. This legislation is one way for our state to push back and ensure all Washingtonians have a quality health insurance option they can afford. I believe health care is a right, not a privilege. While our state continues to help lead the national fight for health care for all, this is one way our state is taking action now to ensure affordable care for more people.”